Celtic had some good times in the early years of the decade of the 1950s, like the St Mungo Cup and Scottish Cup wins of 1951, the Coronation Cup win of 1953 and League/Scottish Cup ‘double’ of 1953/54. That league win was the first since football had started up officially again in 1946/47 after the Second World War and to be blunt, it was not a competition that Celtic had starred in very often at that time.
That lack of empathy with the league continued in season 1956/57. Just before the turn of the year, Celtic were lying in 7th place in the table, behind Hearts, Motherwell, Rangers, Raith Rovers, Dundee and Aberdeen. During the autumn months of 1956, however, some good news had come to the club when Celtic won the League Cup for the first time, beating Partick Thistle 3-0 in a replay after a 0-0 draw in the first game.
From the New Year onwards, matters did not improve for Celtic. A 0-2 loss to Rangers was followed by a 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock and a 0-2 defeat by Queen’s Park before a 2-1 win over Motherwell put some gloss on the situation.
On this day in 1957, a very hopeful Celtic squad plus manager and directors headed to the south of Scotland, to Palmerston Park in Dumfries, where they would face Queen of the South. The reason for the hopefulness was the form of the Doonhamers, which was pretty dire that season, pushing them down into the bottom four.
Manager Jimmy McGrory put out a side of Beattie, Haughney, Kennedy, Evans, Jack, Peacock, Higgins, Tully, Sharkey, Fernie, Mochan and was keen to stress the importance of the game to the players as they got ready. The first half turned out to be fairly even, only enlivened by two own goals, the first by Queen’s left-back Binning for Celtic and the second for the home side by centre-half John Jack.
After the interval, though, the Doonhamers took the game by the scruff of the neck and quickly got three goals, in 52, 56 and 61 minutes. Celtic were a bit shell-shocked but worked hard to get back in the game and did so with goals by John Higgins (75) and Neilly Mochan (87). But when the final whistle blew, it was still 4-3 for Queen of the South, a result which deepened Celtic’s January woes.
NB At the end of the season, Celtic were placed 5th in the league table; Queen of the South finished third bottom. Celtic also reached the semi-final of the Scottish Cup, losing 1-3 to Kilmarnock in a replay after a 1-1 draw in the first match.